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Route of the Week

Better service, quirky destinations grow Route 32 ridership 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, April 01, 2019 9:39:00 AM

A Metro Transit Route 32 bus at the Robbinsdale Transit Center in Robbinsdale, Minn.Ask people why they ride Route 32, and you’ll likely hear something about how convenient it is.

Route 32 runs largely along Lowry Avenue between the Robbinsdale Transit Center and the Rosedale Transit Center, serving several key destinations and quirky businesses.

The route has become particularly popular as service has improved over the past few years. In 2012, the Lowry Avenue Bridge re-opened, bringing a four-year detour of Route 32 to an end. Weekend and weekday evening service has also been expanded.

The service improvements have considerably boosted Route 32 ridership. Nearly a half-million rides were taking on Route 32 last year, more than twice the amount taken in 2012. 

“I think Route 32 service is starting to meet the market demand that has been there this whole time,” Senior Planner Michael Mechtenberg said.

To build on this success, federal funding will be used to further improve Route 32 service. Instead of every half hour, trips will operate every 20 minutes, every day.

Popular destinations served by Route 32 include downtown Robbinsdale, North Memorial Health Hospital, the Hennepin County North Regional Library and Rosedale Center.

Along the way, customers can enjoy views of Victory Memorial Drive, the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline, a century-old cemetery and even a Ferris wheel that comes alive with pink neon at night.

There are also a host of small businesses with quirky names and a cool retro feel, including Market Bar-B-Que, with its neon-lit sign of a waving pig in a chef’s toque, Broken Heart Tattoo Club and Good Carma, a foreign auto repair shop that sits next to Carma Coffee, which is decorated with auto parts.

Leslie Davis, an environmental activist who doesn’t own a vehicle, is a longtime rider who commutes on Route 32. "It’s a crazy street sometimes in rush hours,” Davis said of Lowry Avenue. “I’ve never had any problems on this route. This bus is very good.”

Fridley resident Carol Owens, who boards at Lowry and Central avenues, also sees Route 32 as a reliable way to get to and from her job at Wells Fargo in Roseville. “I’ve been taking it forever,” she said on a recent afternoon.

Route 32 at a glance

Service: Urban Local

Route length: 10 miles

Bus stops: 130, eastbound and westbound

Key destinations: Downtown Robbinsdale, North Memorial Health Hospital, Hennepin County North Regional Library and Rosedale Center. Route 32 also crosses Victory Memorial Drive, lined with trees and monuments honoring Hennepin County servicemen and servicewomen who died in World War I, and provides a view of the Mississippi River and downtown Minneapolis from the Lowry Avenue Bridge.

In Northeast Minneapolis, Route 32 provides access to several local businesses, including Betty Danger’s Country Club, billed as a “country club for the 99 percent,” Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room, with its upstairs speakeasy Al’s Place reachable from the University Avenue side by an unmarked door.

Farther east, the route passes Windom Park, Gross National Golf Club and the nearly century-old Sunset Cemetery. In Roseville, Route 32 traverses a light industrial area to reach the Rosedale Transit Center on the east side of Rosedale Center. There, passengers can catch the A Line and several other connecting bus routes. 

Have a favorite bus route that you think more people should know about? Tell us what makes it great and we'll consider including it in our "Route of the Week" series. Send your thoughts to ridersalmanac@metrotransit.org

Bus Community St. Paul

On Transit Driver Appreciation Day, admiration goes both ways 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Tuesday, March 19, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Transit Driver Appreciation Day was designed to put the focus on operators like Shelly Logelin, who started working at Metro Transit in 2013.

But when students from Saint Paul Public School’s Focus Beyond Transition Services visited Metro Transit’s East Metro Garage on Monday the support went in both directions.

The students, frequent bus riders, visited the garage to hand deliver gift bags filled with snacks and decorated with one of the custom thank you cards they helped design.

But, like several operators in attendance, Logelin said picking up Focus Beyond students is just as much of a highlight for her as it is for the students.

“Even though it’s our appreciation day, we’re giving it back to them to make sure they know they’re appreciated, too,” she said.  

Focus Beyond is a transitional school where students learn how to become more independent. Students often ride in large groups, filling entire buses on routes 54, 70 and 74, as they ride to and from school, work and other destinations.

The students were invited to East Metro after taking the initiative to deliver handmade cards and gift bags to drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day in 2018.

Tina Potvin, a teacher who helped organize the efforts, said students ride so frequently that they often develop relationships with the drivers. The kindness, patience and smiles they offer make sure the students always feel welcome, she said. 

“Many of the drivers greet our students by name and learn about all the individual needs they may have,” Potvin said. ”They really go out of their way to make both the students and the staff feel so much more comfortable and welcome.”

Help us recognize great operators

Help Metro Transit recognize great operators by submitting a commendation through our website or by sharing messages on Facebook or Twitter. If you don't know your operator's name, include the operator number on their shoulder so we can share your feedback with them.

Know Your Operator Light Rail METRO Green Line

Know Your Operator: DJ Gonte 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, March 15, 2019 8:24:00 AM

Train Operator DJ Gonte at the Green Line's Operations & Maintenance Facility in St. Paul.

Growing up in Ethiopia’s capitol city, DJ Gonte didn’t live far from a train station.

Watching the trains pull in and out gave him an early and deep love for railroading. Years later, it would also lead him to what he now describes as his dream job.

Seeking new opportunity, Gonte moved to Minnesota in 1996. He went to school, earned an associates degree in computer networking and took jobs at a computer company and as a school bus driver.

After a few years, he found a role at Medtronic. The company’s Brooklyn Center offices are just east of Metro Transit's Martin J. Ruter Garage.

“I would pass by the front of the garage and say, ‘One day, I’m going to work there,’” Gontesaid.

In late 2009, he realized that vision and began as a part-time bus operator. While he liked the work, Gonte knew from the beginning that what he really wanted was to drive a train.

He got that opportunity in 2014, when the METRO Green Line opened. Gonte was among those who made the inaugural trips on opening day, and he’s been carrying passengers up and down University Avenue ever since.

The job is just as enjoyable and rewarding as he imagined, too.

“I just love it. Every time I go out it’s like a whole new experience,” he said. “When I’m away from work for a few days I’m always excited to come back.”

The job does have its challenges, though. While he’s learned to anticipate the actions of drivers and pedestrians, moving through the corridor still requires constant and undivided attention, Gonte said.

Nearly five years after realizing his dream, Gonte said he’s proud of what he does and has no plans to stop any time soon.

Besides liking his job, he appreciates the benefits and a schedule that allows him and his wife to share parenting responsibilities and enjoy weekends together as a family (Gonte has two children, ages 3 and 9).

"When you like what you do it just gets better and better," he said. 

Know Your Operator

Know Your Operator: Kieyonn Bogan 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, March 13, 2019 1:47:00 PM

Nicollet Operator Kieyonn Bogan, who began at Metro Transit in 2004. After putting in an application to serve as a school bus driver, Kieyonn Bogan headed home on a Metro Transit bus and passed Nicollet Garage.

Bogan grew up near the south Minneapolis garage and regularly took the bus to Roosevelt High School and to the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park. Despite that exposure, she said it wasn’t until that moment that she considered what it would be like to work for Metro Transit.

Bogan went with that thought, applied and quickly found herself following a new career path.

She began as an operator in 2004 and, after overcoming some initial hesitation, has come to truly enjoy the work. Her favorite parts of the job, she says, are interacting with customers and getting a unique view of her community.

“I get to see the city wake up and I get to see the city go to sleep, all within a climate-controlled environment,” Bogan said.

Bogan has spent her entire career at Nicollet Garage, a small, close-knit garage where she sees her co-workers as family. While she’s familiar with lots of routes, staying at Nicollet has also led to an affinity for one of Metro Transit’s most popular routes – Route 21.

“I see a lot of the same people who always say hello, or just ride for the social aspect,” Bogan said. “People like that really make your day.”

Customer service isn’t Bogan’s only strong suit, either.

She has a 14-year safe driving record and, for the past four years, has helped train new operators as a relief instructor. Bogan says the key to safe driving is to not focus too heavily on the schedule.

In the future, Bogan hopes to continue growing her career at Metro Transit. She’s particularly interested in serving as a Transit Supervisor, helping operators and customers navigate planned or unplanned detours and other issues.

Whatever happens next, Bogan said she’s grateful to represent Metro Transit and for all the benefits of working for the organization. Since starting, she’s purchased a home, traveled and raised two boys, now ages 17 and 12.

“There are a lot of opportunities that may not have happened if I didn’t stick it out,” she said. “I’m really glad I’m here.”

We're hiring! 

Learn more about becoming a bus operator and support available to bus operator applicants at metrotransit.org/bus-driver-hiring

Help us recognize great operators

Help Metro Transit recognize great operators by submitting a commendation through our website or by sharing messages on Facebook or Twitter. If you don't know your operator's name, include the operator number on their shoulder so we can share your feedback with them.

Bus Minneapolis Rider Information

Construction leads to detours in downtown Minneapolis 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, March 04, 2019 1:03:00 PM

Multiple routes will be detoured off a busy downtown Minneapolis street beginning Saturday, March 9, the first of several service changes that will occur this year due to road construction in the city center.

Beginning March 9, southbound trips on routes 5, 9, 19, 22, 39 and 755 will shift from 8th Street South to 6th Street South. During the detour, the routes will also stop serving the 7th Street/Ramp A Transit Center. 

The City of Minneapolis is rebuilding 8th Street between Hennepin and Chicago avenues. Utility work has been underway for months, reducing traffic lanes. This spring, crews will begin a full reconstruction of the corridor. Buses will return to 8th Street when construction is completed. 

As part of the city's reconstruction efforts, the roadway will be repaved, sidewalks will be widened and several Bus Rapid Transit stations will be added. Both the C Line and the D Line will operate on 8th Street.

The 7th Street/Ramp A Transit Center, a future BRT stop, will also be improved this year. When the C Line opens in June, customers will use stops on 6th Street. 

There are currently 350 bus trips on 8th Street South each weekday. 

Moving service to 6th Street South allows customers to remain closer to the city center. Schedules have been adjusted to account for the new routing.

Additional detours will go into effect in downtown Minneapolis later this year.

As early as April, the city plans to begin a nearly three-year reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue between Washington Avenue and 12th Street. Hennepin Avenue routes will shift to Nicollet Mall during construction.  

Pedestrian and transit improvements are also being incorporated into the Hennepin Avenue project.

Several other route and schedule changes will take effect on Saturday, March 9. The changes are being made as part of the regularly scheduled, quarterly service adjustments. The next round of service changes is scheduled to take effect on Saturday, June 8.

Click the map to view the 8th Street bus stops that will close beginning March 9, and where buses will stop on 6th Street.

Map of the 8th Street bus stops that will close beginning March 9, and where buses will stop on 6th Street.

Open stops when busses operate on 6th St. downtown Minneapolis beginning March 9
Route 5 - Southbound Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
6th St just past 4th
6th St between Park and Chicago
Chicago just past 8th
Route 9 - Eastbound

Glenwood Ave at 10th St
Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
6th St just past 4th
Portland just past 9th St

Route 19 – Southbound

10th St at Twins Way
Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
6th St just past 4th
6th St between Park and Chicago

Route 22 – Southbound

10th St at Twins Way
Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
5th Ave at 5th St
5th Ave at 4th St

Route 39 – Southbound

5th St Garage
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
6th St between 4th
Portland Ave just past 9th St

Route 755 – Southbound

10th St at Twins Way
Glenwood at 7th St N
6th St at Hennepin
6th St at Nicollet
6th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave
5th Ave at 5th St

Learn more about service changes that begin March 9

Beginning Saturday, March 9, changes will be made to several routes operated by Metro Transit & Maple Grove Transit. Find an overview of the changes at metrotransit.org

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